Journalism 'under attack' in Colombia

By Caitlin Pike Colombian documentary filmmaker Hollman Morris is in
the UK this week to raise awareness of the danger and oppression
suffered by the media in his country.

Morris, backed by the NUJ,
is seeking support and solidarity from British journalists and hopes to
progress plans to establish an organisation in Colombia to help
journalists at risk and to campaign for a free press.

Colombia
has a poor human rights record and is one of the most dangerous
countries for journalists. In the past decade, 54 journalists have been
killed and since 2003 12 journalists have been murdered, 14 kidnapped,
36 physically attacked and 59 threatened.

A recent report on
Colombia published by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists
said: “Thorough, accurate reporting has gone by the wayside amid the
climate of fear.

Under threat from rebels or paramilitaries and
fearing for their lives, journalists are often forced to skew their
coverage to favour one side. By repressing and influencing coverage,
armed groups are effectively waging war over information as well as
territory and power.”

Morris himself received a death threat in
May this year. After making a film about a massacre by the Colombian
army in the San Jose de Apartadó peace community, he and two other
journalists received bunches of flowers lamenting their deaths and
notes expressing condolences to their families.

NUJ general
secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Journalism is under attack from all sides
in Colombia. Journalists are murdered with impunity and the country has
now reached a point where only a tiny, brave minority in the media dare
speak out.

“The NUJ utterly condemns the terrorising of
journalists and demands that the Colombian government show respect for
freedom of speech.”

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